Hamilton Bennett watched the ball disappear into Eddie Tisdale's glove and let out a whoop.
"I could tell from the coaches that that was my last batter," the freshman said. "I didn't want to come out with two outs. I kind of wanted the complete game."
Bennett coaxed a game-ending double play from Louis Ullrich on Sunday, giving his Cardinal team a 4-1, seven-inning victory in Game 6 of Winthrop's Banana Split Series and capping a 4-2 series win. The Cardinal team will enjoy a round of banana splits, courtesy of the White team, before final exams.
The White won Game 4 on Friday and tied the series at two games each, but the Cardinal stormed back Saturday with a 5-4, 10th-inning victory. Rand Baughman singled in Eddie Rohan to clinch the victory, setting up the rubber match Sunday.
If the White won, each Eagle would pay for his own treat.
But the Cardinal figured, where was the fun in that?
"Coach Stas (Swerdzewski)'s paying for mine," joked assistant coach Mike McGuire, who led the Cardinal team and got the mandatory postgame water cooler bath. "The great thing about the Split series is the returning guys get into it and the intensity cranks up.
"That's what happened this time."
Bennett, a rookie from Fort Mill, only allowed one hit through five innings and finished with the double play. He got a two-run single from Tyler McBride and a two-out, full-count solo home run from freshman Eddie Rohan in the fifth to help set the final margin.
"I think it was a change-up," said Rohan, who's impressed early with his stick and could see some time at catcher, first base, outfield or designated hitter in the spring. "I've never really been a power hitter but I was just trying to put it in play."
With a 4-0 lead and cruising on the mound, Bennett made one mistake by trying to sneak a pitch past John Murrian. The Eagles' returning catcher, Murrian hammered it well out to left.
"I did all right," Bennett said. "I made a couple of mistakes. My defense played great and my offense hit the ball; that's all you can ask for."
The game concluded the series and fall practice, which was blessed with a few more dates and more time for intrasquad scrimmages thanks to NCAA rule changes. The Eagles will play their fundraiser marathon game and hold their Scout Day next week, but otherwise, Sunday marked the end of team practice until Feb. 1.
The season begins Feb. 22.
"I think the whole fall was very, very good," said coach Joe Hudak, who manned the PA microphone and acted as commissioner for the series. "What I was most pleased with was the fact that we were a very, very good team.
"We may not have any superstars, but we're a good team, we play hard, the team chemistry was very good, the work ethic was phenomenal."